Friday, December 19, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Us, Ws, Ys, Zs, and #s

HOLY COW, this is almost the end of this incredibly long journey. I started reviewing everything in my music library in February 2008, when my 9-almost-10-year-old son was a 3-year-old. At that point, my whole library was, as I said at the time, 250 Gigs, 140-odd days, 47,000+ songs. After continuing ripping CDs and vinyl, vigorous music purchasing, and trading music with friends, my library is currently 518 GB, 221-odd days, and 80,000+ songs. And with this post, it is about 98% listened to and reviewed. Following this post, I have to catch up with albums bought over the last 18 months or so, and then I'm done. Coming soon: a book about how an easy-seeming project wound up taking 7 years to complete and drove me stark raving mad. On second thought, that may be a boring book.

The Unaccompanied Voice: An A Capella Compilation (2000). Too much a cappella! But the Richard Buckner/P.W. Long collaboration on "Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down" is fantastic.

Uncut Presents: Highway 61 Revisited Revisited (2005). Solid choices for a Dylan tribute here: Drive-By Truckers, Paul Westerburg, Dave Alvin, Handsome Family, American Music Club.

United States Of Punk (rel. 1998). Cheapo collection of live versions of punk classics. Good songs, though.

Until The End Of The World Original Soundtrack (1991). Soundtrack to a decent Wim Wenders movie with well-chosen music (outside of U2).

Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson (1990). Such a great tribute album. This is where I first heard Roky's brilliant songs, and the artists here are very well chosen. I started listing the good ones but realized I was just listing almost all of them.

White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s (rel. 2006). Accompanying legendary producer Joe Boyd's autobiography, this compilation features some of the albums and tracks he worked on in the late 1960s, including Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne" and a boatload of Brit-folk.

White Riot Volume Two: A Tribute To The Clash (2003). This is another Uncut compilation with Stiff Little Fingers, Sparks, Waco Brothers, Cracker, and Billy Bragg.

The Wire: "...And All the Pieces Matter." - Five Years of Music from the Wire (rel. 2008). Soundtrack to the greatest work of television to date.

Works In Progress: Rubber Records Sampler 2007. Another group of inoffensive but uninspiring group of songs from a label I don't know much about.

The World is a Wonderful Place: The Songs of Richard Thompson (rel. 1985). The American tribute album to Richard Thompson had a bunch of dissimilar artists cranking the hell out of some RT songs. This one has mostly polite Brit-folkers mostly politely Brit-folking in the proximity of some RT songs. The saving grace is the previously unreleased eponymous song by Richard and Linda Thompson.

Yo Gabba Gabba! Music Is Awesome (2009). Kinda obnoxious, but one of the better children's show when my kids were preschooling age. I bought the album then and can't quite bring myself to delete it now, although I think the odds that I'll ever listen to it again are nil.

You Thrill My Soul!: Female and Girl Groups from the Early Stax Sessions (rel. 1995). Collection of early Stax singles much more from the girl group genre than Stax's eventual R&B/soul sound.

The 3rd Annual IODA SXSW Opening Day Bash Sampler (2007). Freebie from eMusic with fair-to-middling tracks and one standout.

The 7 Inch Wonders of the World (1986). SST collection of a bunch of early singles and EPs by Black Flag, the Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Wurm, and LA Overkill.

1995 Sugar Hill Sampler. Freebie collection from the bluegrass label.

2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler, 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler, and 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler. Since the Pitchfork Festival is generally well-curated, these are also pretty well-curated. Neat, huh?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Of 2014, Album Edition + 2009 Best-Of Report Card

Don't let the title fool you; this is almost definitely going to be the only best-of 2014 post. Here's what this particular old man liked to listen to in 2014.

1. Wussy - Attica!, which dug right in and took over my consciousness in the last few months.

2. Sun Kil Moon - Benji, which did the same in the first few months of the year. I hear Kozelek is kind of a dick, but his bizarro rhyme-and-meter-denying confessional folk songs may be the best thing he's done since the second Red House Painters album.

3. Boris - Noise, because I love rock music in all of its variances almost as much as they do.

4. Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin, which - like the last Mould album - is unexpectedly fantastic.

5. Fucked Up - Glass Boys/Glass Boys (Slow Version)/Year of the Dragon EP, in which I combine all of the Fucked Up releases for the year into one entry because all three have been inseparable on my playlist since I added them and because Glass Boys - while not their greatest effort - is great enough that I've essentially bought it twice in one year, just so I could hear the version with the more conventional drumming (which, ironically, actually made the songs sound less conventional).

6. Deerhoof - La Isla Bonita, which is the latest entry on this list, but after a few listens, I think this may be the best Deerhoof album in a few years.

7. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2, which is jam-packed with ideas, many of which I have yet to parse, but all of which I like.

8. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country, because - like Fucked Up - it breathes life into a rigid genre.

9. Earth - Primitive And Deadly, which has abandoned the cello and electronics of the Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light era (and I really, really loved those albums) in favor of guitar work that is simultaneously massive and more subtle than their past and vocal work that is better-integrated into their sound.

10. Spoon - They Want My Soul, which is my favorite Spoon album since Gimme Fiction.

Also considered and regretfully not included:
Thee Oh Sees - Drop
St. Vincent - St. Vincent
Dean Wareham - Dean Wareham
Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun
Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans
Hartle Road - Hartle Road EP
Through The Sparks - Invisible Kids
The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams
Andrew Bird - Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of...

Bought too recently to be heard yet, but maybe a contender later:
Hookworms - The Hum
Melvins - Hold It In


Although I haven't been so good at doing this lately, I generally like to go back and look at my best-of from five years previous to see how well my end-of-the-year choices held up. So, my best-of for 2009 was, as of January 5, 2010, as follows:

1. (Tie) Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
1. (Tie) Vic Chesnutt - At The Cut
3. Mastodon - Crack The Skye
4. Isis - Wavering Radiant
5. Dexateens - Singlewide
6. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
7. Oneida - Rated O
8. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion/Fall Be Kind EP9. Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
10. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

Other albums considered were:
11. Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship
12. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
13. Sonic Youth - The Eternal
14. The Bats - The Guilty Office
15. Pelican - What We All Come To Need
16. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society - Infernal Machines
17. Sunn 0))) - Monoliths and Dimensions
18. The Clean - Mister Pop
19. Mission of Burma - The Sound, The Speed, The Light
20. A.C. Newman - Get Guilty
21. The Soft Pack - The Muslims
22. The Clientele - Bonfires On The Heath
23. The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
24. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
25. Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul
26. The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
27. Molly Berg and Stephen Vitiello - The Gorilla Variations
28. Sparklehorse + Fennesz - In the Fishtank 15

With five years of hindsight to work with, my Revised 2009 Best-of List is now:

1.  Vic Chesnutt - At The Cut/Skitter On Take-Off (was 1/unranked)
2. Dexateens - Singlewide (was 5)
3. Baroness - Blue Record (was unranked)
4. Sunn 0))) - Monoliths and Dimensions (was 17)
5. The Clean - Mister Pop (was 18)
6. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm (was 10)
7. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs (was 1)
8. Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship (was 11)
9. Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall (was unranked)
10. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society - Infernal Machines (was 16)
11. Shrinebuilder - Shrinebuilder EP (was unranked)
12. Mastodon - Crack The Skye (was 3)
13. Isis - Wavering Radiant (was 4)
14. Pelican - What We All Come To Need (was 15)
15. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast (was 6)
16. Sonic Youth - The Eternal (was 13)
17. Om - God Is Good (was unranked)
18. Che Arthur Three - Like Revenge (was unranked)
19. Bob Dylan - Together Through Life (was unranked)
20. The Bats - The Guilty Office (was 14)
21. Girls - Album (was unranked)
22. DOOM - Born Like This/Unexpected Guests (was unranked)
23. My Dad Is Dead - New Clear Route (was unranked)
24. Mission of Burma - The Sound, The Speed, The Light (was 19)
25. A.C. Newman - Get Guilty (was 20)
26. The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away (was 26: SCORE!)
27. St. Vincent - Actor (was unranked)
28. Wooden Ships - Dos (was unranked)
29. Strange Attractors - Sleep And You Will See (was unranked)
30. The Clientele - Bonfires On The Heath (was 22)

Now unranked:
7. Oneida - Rated O
8. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion/Fall Be Kind EP9. Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
12. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
21. The Soft Pack - The Muslims
23. The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
24. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
25. Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul
27. Molly Berg and Stephen Vitiello - The Gorilla Variations
28. Sparklehorse + Fennesz - In the Fishtank 15

In short, there were 13 2009 albums now in my top 30 that I had not heard at the time I made my list. Seven albums moved up and nine ranked albums moved down. Ten slipped off the list altogether, including three from my top ten. Pretty poor showing, Childs. I'm giving myself a C- for 2009.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Ts

Taste Test #1 (1990). SST sampler of live cuts with two d. boon outtakes, Universal Congress Of, fIREHOSE, and Roger Miller on the positive side and some pretty dull SST also-rans on the negative side.

Texas Psychedelia From The Sixties (rel. 1986). Pretty cool Texas-specific nuggets comp.

That's Why We're Marching: World War II and the American Folk Song Movement (rel. 1996). Smithsonian/Folkways has an amazing archive. This one is notable mid-century folksingers and blues artists (Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Josh White, Pete Seeger, y'know) playing songs in support of the war effort. Every track is from 1941-45.

Three Ring Sampler Vol. 1 (2007). Free label sampler from eMusic with a bunch of sorta nondescript but pleasant enough folky indie-rock bands.

Times Ain't Like They Used To Be: Early American Rural Music, Vols. 1, 2, and 3 (rel. late 90s). Three out of eight or so comps of early hillbilly/folk/country music. These aren't quite as well curated as the Harry Smith anthologies (although there's a lot of overlap, the flow and cohesion aren't there), but still quite fun at times.

The Tompkins Square 5th Anniversary eMusic Sampler (rel. 2010). With their semi-eclectic roster of artists from the John Fahey school of freaky fingerstyle guitar, vintage folk, and aging purveyors of vintage folk, this free sampler is a good reminder of how much I like this record label.

Total Lee! The Songs Of Lee Hazlewood (2002). Hazlewood's a brilliant songwriter and this tribute album matches some truly simpatico artists with his music. Good stuff.

Trojan Dub Box Set and Trojan Ska Box Set (both rel. 1998). There's a metric ton of these Trojan comps now, but these two are the only ones I've sprung for at this point. Don't know why I haven't gotten more because these are flat-out magnificent.

Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound (rel. 2005) and Tropicalia: Ou Panis Et Circenses (rel. 1968). Interestingly, these two comps, one released years later to document the high points of the musical movement and one released during the heart of it, make similar-yet-different arguments for the importance of tropicalia. The later one hits some of the weirder highlights while the earlier one emphasizes how much this music was based in traditional Brazilian folk music. Very cool back-to-back, and both leave you wanting to explore these artists more.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Ss

A Sampler of Sounds: ESP Records (rel. 2010). With its incredibly weird catalog of music from the late 60s and early 70s (as well as some odd contemporary electronic sounds), this ESP sampler is a lot of fun. Includes Timothy Leary, Ayler, Sun Ra, the Godz, Charles Manson (although fuck that guy), among others.

Samurai Champloo Music Records (2004). I'm a fan of the anime Samurai Champloo, but four soundtrack albums seemed quite extensive to me even before I heard them. Afterwards, it is definitely too extensive. I mean, there is some good music on here, maybe an album's worth, but a lot of it is just soundtrack loops, beats meant to be paired with a scene, but without the visuals, are just beats that go nowhere. The four albums are Masta, Departure, Playlist, and Impression. The 2nd and 4th are the best.

The Sandinista Project (2007). A long tribute to the Clash's weirdest album, documented here.Worth a listen! Contributors include Jon Langford and Sally Timms of the Mekons, Steve Wynn, the Sex Clark Five, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, Ethan Lipton, Camper Van Beethoven, and The Lothars, a mostly-theramin band with my pal Jon Bernhardt.

Schoolhouse Rock! (1973-84). Those of you who are parents in your late 30s through early 50s understand.

A Second Tribute To Jandek: Down In A Mirror (2005). Another very strong tribute album, with Jeff Tweedy, Six Organs of Admittance, Okkervil River, the Mountain Goats, and the Dirty Projectors, among others, kicking out the mondo-depressive-weirdo-recluse-shut-in blues. Hey, I love Jandek, and some days are perfect for being melancholy.

Skybucket Records Sampler 2011. Skybucket is an excellent Birmingham, AL-based label with a smattering of artists on the alt-county and lush guitar-pop side of the rock genre. This sampler includes Through The Sparks, which is a band I like very much, along with other interesting Alabama bands like Vulture Whale and Delicate Cutters.

The Slaughter Rule Original Soundtrack (2002). Jay Farrar of Son Volt & Uncle Tupelo made the incidental music and curated this soundtrack, which has some first-rate alt-country tracks, like Vic Chesnutt playing the Carter Family's "Rank Stranger" and Freakwater playing the Louvin Brothers' "When I Stop Dreaming."  Good stuff.

Smithsonian-Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music Sampler (rel. unknown). Since I have the Anthology of American Folk Music, why have the sampler, too, you might ask? The answer is I don't know!

So Blue So Funky: Heroes Of The Hammond, Vol. 1 (1991) and 2 (1994). These are compilations of organ-based blues-jazz-funk on Blue Note from the 60s. Solid.

So Indie It Hurts: ROIR Rocks Volume One (2008) and Two (2009). Through the 70s and 80s, ROIR put out cassette-only albums of classic protopunk and punk bands usually playing live. And it may still be a going concern? I don't know. Anyway, good stuff on here, even if the sounds quality is not always the best.

Sō: Japanese Traditional Music (rel. 1994). Interesting in the abstract, but a little dull for these Western ears in practice.

A Soldiers Sad Story: Vietnam Through the Eyes of Black America, 1966-73. This 2003 compilation collects sad soul tracks that are directly or indirectly related to Vietnam, as the title clearly states. This is an excellently curated collection, definitely worth picking up at the right price.

Something Wild Soundtrack (1986). I don't understand how Jonathan Demme could make a movie prominently featuring The Feelies and yet include no Feelies music on this soundtrack. Given the choice between Oingo Boingo or Fine Young Cannibals and the band that actually appears in the movie, I know which one I would want to appear on the soundtrack, but apparently, I am alone in preferring timeless music to dated 80s pop. Here is a clip of what this soundtrack should have been.

A Sound Legacy: 60 Years of Folkways Records and 20 Years of Smithsonian Folkways (rel. 2008). I think this was a free Amazon sampler? Anyway, it is a pretty cool freebie.

The Squidbillies Present: Music for Americans Only Made by Americans in China for Americans Only God Bless America, U.S.A. (2012). Another freebie sampler from [adult swim] with an absurdly strong list of contributors. I've never warmed up to the Squidbillies cartoon, but this collection makes me want to. This clip includes half of Nashville and half of Austin and it makes me laugh like hell.

Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988). This is one of Hal Willner's many, many tribute albums, and I've had it since the late 80s because it has the Replacements on it. First place I ever heard Sun Ra or Ken Nordine.

Step Right Up: The Songs Of Tom Waits (rel. 1995). This is the Tom Waits tribute album that doesn't have Screamin' Jay Hawkins on it, and it is, accordingly, the shittier of the two.

The Stiff Records Box Set (rel. 1992). "If it ain't Stiff, it ain't worth a fuck" was one of their slogans, and this box makes a good argument for this statement, at least until the third disc is taken over by the British proclivity towards the soggy cheese of overemotive vocals and plink-plonk keyboards. But the first two discs, with Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, The Damned, Wreckless Eric, The Adverts, and on and on, is fantastic. I mean, even after the Brit-pop erupts, there's still The Pogues.

Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox (2009). Merge put out this compilation to benefit the recovery of NZ-based Chris Knox of the Tall Dwarfs and Toy Love, and the incredibly strong contributor list indicates how beloved his music is among the American indie-rock set. Besides his countrymen (and sometimes collaborators) David Kilgour, The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats, Peter Gutteridge, and (full-time collaborator) Alex Bathgate, this comp features Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Stephin Merritt, Yo La Tengo, Portastatic, Jay Reatard (one of the last songs he recorded before his untimely death), Lambchop, and the Mountain Goats. Fantastic album, fantastic cause.

Studio One Rockers (rel. 2001). Excellent comp of 60s and 70s rock-influenced reggae.

The Sun Story (rel. 1990). Solid comp of Sun singles.

Supraphon Selections (2008). Compilation of classical music from the Supraphon label. Pretty good for a dabbler like myself.

SXSW 2007: Breakout Bands That Tore Up Texas. This must be an eMusic comp. Not the best, but not the worst, either. There are a few strong cuts.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Rs

Repo Man Soundtrack (1984). If not my introduction to LA hardcore, then this album was very close to it.

Return Of The Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons (1999). I love Gram Parsons a lot. This is ok, I guess, but no substitute for the original.

Riverside Original Jazz Classics Sampler (1957-63). Out of all of the Original Jazz Classics Samplers, this one is the best, mainly because the label was a going concern for such a short time that it captured a lot of hard bop and then went out of business.

Rock The Bells: Six Years Of Live Hip-Hop (rel. 2009). This is a free sampler with some top-notch artists on it, including the RZA, Cage, Dead Prez, Aesop Rock, and Del The Funky Homosapien. What's not to like?

Rockabilly Psychosis And The Garage Disease (rel. 1984). Like a precursor to the Lux & Ivy's Favorites collections, this fantastic compilation puts together tracks from all kinds of Cramps-friendly acts, including a blistering collaboration between the Cramps themselves and Jim Dickinson, producer and wild man extraordinaire. Also included are Tav Falco, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Hasil Adkins, a bunch of punk-rockabilly-garage tracks, and a bunch of psycho garage bands from the 60s. Good stuff is what I'm saying.

Roots N' Blues: The Retrospective (1925-1950). Yet another mystery comp that I picked up somewhere down the line. This one has a bunch of early blues tracks with some hillbilly/old-time music thrown in.

The Rubble series (rec. all over the late 60s, rel. between the mid 80s and early 00s). This is one of the mini-Nuggets series with some crossover with the Nuggets II box. Lots of interesting psych here, albeit with more duds than the more carefully curated Nuggets boxes. Website can be found here.

  • Rubble 1: The Psychedelic Snarl
  • Rubble 2: Pop Sike, Pipe Dreams
  • Rubble 3: Nightmares In Wonderland
  • Rubble 4: The 49 Minute Technicolour Dream
  • Rubble 5: The Electric Crayon Set
  • Rubble 6: The Clouds Have Groovy Faces
  • Rubble 7: Pictures In The Sky
  • Rubble 8: All The Colours Of Darkness
  • Rubble 9: Plastic Wilderness
  • Rubble 10: Professor Jordan's Magic Sound Show
  • Rubble 11: Adventures In The Mist
  • Rubble 12: Staircase To Nowhere
  • Rubble 13: Freakbeat Fantoms
  • Rubble 14: The Magic Rocking Horse
  • Rubble 15: 5,000 Seconds Over Toyland
  • Rubble 16: Glass Orchid Aftermath
  • Rubble 17: A Trip In A Painted World
  • Rubble 18: Rainbow Thyme Wynders
  • Rubble 19: Eiderdown Mindfog
  • Rubble 20: Thrice Upon A Time (Nothing Is Real)

Rudy Van Gelder Remasters Sampler, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (both released 2006). These were a couple of free samplers of the Blue Note and Prestige remasters by Rudy Van Gelder, the engineer who recorded a ton of hard bop back in the day. Unfortunately, eMusic released these free samplers with low-to-middling nitrates (128-170 kbps) and I don't hear too much of the sonic clarity that they were supposed to offer, let alone any serious difference between the original mix of, say, "Oleo" from Bag's Groove (attributed to Miles Davis, but featuring Davis, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Milt Jackson, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke) and the one offered here. Maybe they sound much better when using quality equipment or a higher nitrate. In the youtube videos following, the RVG remaster has a lot more space and warmth.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Os and Ps

Short post this week. Too many Rs to drop them in after the Os and Ps. No Qs.

Odessa Records eMusic Sampler 2012. Comp from Chapel Hill with especially great songs by the Spider Bags and Kingsbury Manx.

OHM - The Early Gurus of Electronic Music (rel. 2000). Compilation of compositional music from composers who experimented with electronic sounds. Because of the nature of the music, the earliest works are late 30s-early 40s, but it quickly jumps to the late 60s and spends the rest of its running time catching up to the punk-influenced sounds of the late 70s through 1980. Interesting stuff, though.

Once (Music From The Motion Picture) (2007). Ugh. Do not like.

One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds, Lost & Found (rel. 2005). Much more like it. This compilations collects girl groups from the 60s with the ear of the Nuggets box. There are so many great songs here with such a clear lineage to punk music. This comp also came packaged in a hat box, so there's a heavy cool angle here, too.

The Oxford American Southern Samplers: I probably should talk about each of these as a separate album, but let's face it: I'm ready to wrap up this portion of this project. I was going to tell you my favorites, but realized that I enjoyed the hell out of every single one. If anyone has the discs after 2010, please hook me up.

  • #1 (1997).
  • #2 (1998).
  • #3 (1999).
  • #4 (2000).
  • #5 (2001).
  • #6 (2003).
  • #7 (2005).
  • #8 (2006).
  • #9 (2007).
  • #10 (2008).
  • #11 (2009).
  • #12 (2010).

Pablo Original Jazz Classics Sampler (1957-81). Pablo stuck to the sweeter side of jazz, didn't they? Lots of artists I like on this sampler playing their least-offensive music.

Paw Tracks eMusic Sampler 2006. Yeah, I don't care.

A Portrait Of The Roots Of Rock N Roll (rel. 2001). No idea where I picked this one up. Lots of blues, little bit of country, little bit of western swing.

The Powerpuff Girls: Heroes & Villains (2000). Pretty great album, all things considered!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Ms and Ns

Making Losers Happy (rel. 1992). This fantastic compilation collects a number of tracks from bands on the NZ label Xpressway between 1988 and 1991, including The Dead C, The Terminals, and Alastair Galbraith.

Mali To Memphis (rel. 1999). This compilation mixes blues tracks and afropop/afrobeat tracks to draw parallels between them with various degrees of success.

Manifest Destiny (rel. 2007). This is an excellent compilation of metal including Earthless, High On Fire, and Sleep. No idea where it came from or why.

Merge Records 2011 Sampler. I think this was a freebie on Amazon, maybe? Great collection, either way. Times New Viking, David Kilgour, Mountain Goats, East River Pipe, among many others.

Metal Swim (2010). This one is another free [adult swim] collection, and it's phenomenal. Lots of my favorites here: Torche, Isis, Jesu, Boris, Pelican.

A Misra Sampler (2006). Collects a bunch of tracks from the late, lamented label. Most notably Centro-Matic (and spinoffs South San Gabriel) and Phosphorescent.

MOJO Presents: I have a bunch of free discs from MOJO magazine, all of which are worthwhile. Instead of going through them all separately, I'm just going to list them.

  • Maximum '65 (2000).
  • Trojan Explosion (2002).
  • The Roots of Hip-Hop (2003).
  • Up Yours! Punk's Not Dead! (2003).
  • Cash Covered (2004).
  • Blue Christmas (2005).
  • The Who Covered (2006).
  • The Who Jukebox (2006).
  • Sub Pop 300! (2008).
  • Heavy Soul (2010).
  • Festive Fifteen (2010).
  • A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind (2010).
  • 1-2-3-4! (2011).
  • Roots of Nirvana (2011).
  • The Route To Quadrophenia (2011).
  • Sticky Soul Fingers (2011).
  • Sub Pop Jubilee (2013).
  • Heavy Nuggets III (2014).
  • Brain Damage (2014).
  • Death Disco (2014).
  • Jack White Presents The Best of Third Man Records (2014).

Monster Rock & Roll Show (rel. 1990). This one has a bunch of 50s and 60s garage/horror-rock and horror movie soundtracks, and it totally worth owning around Halloween.

Music! 100 Years of the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv (rel. 2001). A century of field recordings! Some are interesting and some less so, but still a fascinating document.

New Coat Of Paint: Songs of Tom Waits (2000). Decent tribute album. The highlights are Screamin' Jay Hawkins doing "Whistling Past The Graveyard," which sounds like one of his songs, anyway, and Dexter Romweber's "Romeo Is Bleeding."

New Orleans Funk (rel. 2000). Groovy comp from Soul Jazz Records with the Meters, Lee Dorsey, Professor Longhair, Ernie K-Doe: the guys you'd expect, basically. But the selection is top-notch.

No New York (1978). This is the famous compilation of avant-skronk downtown bands from 1978 with one foot in the punk scene and one in the minimalist-compositional scene. The bands are the Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, and DNA.

No Thanks! The 70s Punk Rebellion (rel. 2003). This is the companion volume to Left Of The Dial, an amazingly well-curated collection from Rhino of great punk albums. Wikipedia says that the Sex Pistols are a notable exclusion at their own request.

Nuggets: Original Artyfacts of the First Psychedelic Era (1964-68). This collection of garage singles, lovingly curated by Jac Holzman and Lenny Kaye, was originally released as a double-album in 1972 and only later expanded to its current state as a four-disc collection. And holy damn, it is truly fantastic, even all of this time later. All of punk started here. I've owned this album for more than 15 years and still find plenty of mind-blowing creativity within.

Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969. This collection, released in 2001, pulls garage music from the UK, Europe, Japan, and South America, and it is a little more haphazard than the original Nuggets, but there is still lots of interesting music within.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Js, Ks, and Ls

Jamaica Funk: Original Funk and Soul 45s (rel. 2007). Killer compilation from Soul Jazz Records of singles on the edge of reggae and funk.

Just One More: A Musical Tribute To Larry Brown (2007). Brown used to be one of my favorite authors, but, well, it's not that I soured on him so much that my tastes changed. I still think fondly of his books, but his interest in the lurid and grotesque parts of the South don't linger as much as, say, Barry Hannah's or Harry Crews's books. I also don't have as much taste for the friendlier, folkier side of the used-to-be-alt-county-now-is-Americana-or-some-such-shit genre. This collection, which Bloodshot Records put together upon Brown's premature passing, collects a number of tracks inspired by Brown's fiction, and Bloodshot should be lauded for doing something so creative. The problem is me, I guess. I don't really care much about some of these tracks, which are back-porch-friendly to the point where I find them dull, while the woolier tracks (Vic Chesnutt and Jim Dickenson, for instance) are pretty interesting, but a maybe a bit too far between to keep me coming back. Nice to hear Madison Smartt Bell, who wrote some of my favorite short stories, trying his hand at folk songs.

KCRW: Rare On Air, Vol. 4 (1998). No idea where I got this. There's some interesting tracks here.

Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America's Music (released 2000). Full of good stuff. Like the mini-series that spawned it, the hard bop era is overrepresented if this wants to be definitive, but for an introduction to early jazz and the bop era, this is a great starter compilation.

The Kings And Queens of Bollywood (2001). More my wife's thing than mine, this collects a bunch of old Bollywood musical numbers, mostly with Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar.

Knitting On The Roof (1999). Weirdo comp with artists from all over the map - who, I guess, played the Knitting Factory at some point - playing songs from Fiddler On The Roof.

Kraut! Demons! Kraut! German Psychedelic Underground 1968-74. Pretty fantastic pre-krautrock nuggets collection.

The Last Soul Company: Malaco, A Thirty Year Retrospective (rel. 1999). Killer southern soul comp of a beleaguered record company based out of Jackson, MS.

The Late Great Daniel Johnston, Discovered Covered (Disc 1: The Covers) (2004). This was one of those two-disc compilations with one greatest-hits side and one cover side, but I only have the cover side. It's pretty good, although not nearly as strong as Kathy McCarty's Dead Dog's Eyeball album. When the Bright Eyes cover popped up in Friday Night Lights (the TV series), though, it slayed me.

Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the 80s Underground (rel. 2004). This compilation hits me right in my happy spot. I mean, there's nothing all that surprising on this, but for people of my age who cared about 80s post-punk, this hits many of the highlights. I just this minute realized that it weirdly doesn't include the Replacements song that gives it its name.

The Legendary Sun Records Story Vol. 2 (1956-57). This is a compilation, presumably the second, that appears to collect every Sun 45 for the period covered. Do you like early rock & roll? Then you will like this.

Legends of Guitar: Rock (The 60s) Vol. 1 (rel. 1991). Should be more accurately titled "Guitar Player Presents..." and so on. Much better compilation than any cheapo disc put out by Guitar Player Magazine has any right to be. Full of crazy-hot licks.

Legends of the Blues Vol. 1 (1925-65). Another mystery compilation. I have what seems like dozens of blues compilations with early tracks (most of these are from the 20s and 30s). And yeah, they're great.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Soundtrack (2004). I like Seu Jorge's mellow bossanova Bowie tracks, but the whole here is less coherent than many of the Wes Anderson joints.

Live At The Continental Club (1985). I think this may be a Bloodshot thing. Features two tracks each by several bands playing Austin's legendary Continental. Best track is Ben Vaughn's cover of Lee Hazlewood's  "Sundown, Sundown."

Los Angeles Post-Punk (1974-1988). This is a compilation made by a blogger, mostly filled with LA punk and post-punk (1978-88) with one Jobriath track from 1974 at the end. Very thorough mix of the good and bad and worth searching out for the curious.

Lux and Ivy's Favorites (1930-98). Another gift from the Internet, this collects 11 volumes of music supposedly curated by Lux and Ivy (of the Cramps, which I don't have to mention to anyone who's read this far into this post). Even at its most ridiculous, this is a sublime collection.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Hs and Is

Halloween Stomp: Jazz and Big Band Music for a Halloween Party! (unknown). Excellent compilation of jazzy, swingy halloween music.

Hand-Picked: 25 Years of Bluegrass on Rounder (rel. 1994). I used to like bluegrass so much more than I do now. It seems so humorless and conservative for people to focus on playing the same songs the same way over and over again to me now, though.

The Harder They Come Soundtrack (1972). Ain't much better than this, a flat-out perfect slice of reggae.

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (rel. 1952). You can hear while listening to this three-volume collection of race and hillbilly 78s exactly how it set off the folk revival in the 60s. Absolutely brilliantly curated. It brings history to life.

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 4 (rel. 2000). I've forgotten the circumstances behind this belated entry in the Harry Smith Anthology collection, but it stands strong with the previous albums.

Here It Is - The Music, Vol. 1 (1992). Weirdo Ryko sampler that pulls together the Residents and Keith Levene with the likes of Nanci Griffith and the Red Clay Ramblers.

High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass (rel. 1994). This is the soundtrack to a movie I've never seen. It's a very good bluegrass collection. The whole movie appears to be on YouTube for those who wish to pursue this movie.

Hills of Home: 25 Years of Folk Music on Rounder (rel. 1994). It calls itself a folk collection, but it means all sorts of music involving an acoustic guitar. There's some good and some bad, but it's on the whole better than the previous Rounder collection above.

Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-71. I prefer Stax soul to Motown soul, but not by much.

Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul (2007). Another Numero Group compilation of soul nuggets, this one focuses on - surprise, surprise - kids playing soul music.

The Hottest State Soundtrack (2007). High on the list of things that I'm not sure why I have is this, the soundtrack to an Ethan Hawke-directed film that I've never seen and have no intention of doing so. It's all mellow, nonthreatening, folkish indie-rock.

I Am The Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey (2006). Fahey inspires weirdness in folk players, and this is an odd compilation that more or less works. Artists include Pelt, Sufjan Stevens, Calexico, Cul de Sac, members of Camper Van Beethoven/Monks of Doom.

Impossible But True: The Kim Fowley Story (1959-68). Fowley was behind a LOT of LA exploitation rock, but, as this collection shows, he was capable of striking a lot of gold.

In God's Country: The Music That Inspired The Joshua Tree (2003). A decent collection of folk, blues, country, and R&B that has god-knows-what connection to freakin' U2.

The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (1986). Great collection of afrobeat/afropop/folk music from Soweto.

An Introduction to Truth and Soul: Truth & Soul Sampler 2009. From this sampler, I'm guessing that this label seems to be reissuing soul albums from the 70s.

It Came From Memphis Too (2006). This is a compilation by the Memphis Industries label. The 60s girl-group-inspired tracks by the Pipettes and El Perro del Mar stand out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Fs and Gs

Famous Shovels In Twain: The Believer 2006 Music Issue. There are a few tracks I like on this comp (Juana Molina and Six Organs of Admittance, for instance) and some I don't, but there is nothing coherent about it.

Fantasy Original Jazz Classics Sampler (rel. 2002). I generally think of Fantasy as a rock catalog because of CCR, but they definitely have jazz here. This selection leans heavily on white-friendly jazz.

Fast Product: Rigour, Discipline, and Disgust (1979). This is a great collection, with early Mekons and Gang of Four singles, as well as the Fire Engines and Human League, from when the latter was - more or less - a punk band.

Fifteen Minutes: A Tribute To The Velvet Underground (1994). Although there's some great names on the roster here (Nirvana, Buffalo Tom, Screaming Trees, Half Japanese, Ride, Wedding Present, Swervedriver), it's a pretty snoozeworthy effort. Echo & The Bunnymen's version of "Foggy Notion" is the high point, and it's not that great.

FLCL Original Soundtrack Vol 1: Addict (2000). This is mostly the work of the pillows, who I have reviewed elsewhere, but it still kicks.

Flying Nun 25th Anniversary Box Set (rel. 2006). A phenomenal argument for the deep bench of the mostly-New Zealand, some-Oz Flying Nun label. Yes, the Clean, the Chills, Bats, Tall Dwarfs, Able Tasmans, Verlaines, 3Ds, Bird Nest Roys, and the Renderers are all extraordinary, but so are the bands I've never even heard of outside of this collection. Excellent stuff, all around.

Folk Music U.S.A. Vol. 1 (rel. 1958). Top-notch Smithsonian collection. I picked it up when I didn't have another copy of "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground," but this is thoroughly great.

The FolkScene Collection (1998). Outside of Richard Thompson's "Waltzing's For Dreamers," Dave Alvin's "Barn Burning," and Iris DeMent's "Our Town," this collection is utterly toothless twaddle. Some may call it Americana, but that's only true if the best America can do is the weird pumpkin whipped cream on top of some caffeine-free sugar-and-additives monstrosity that ends with "-accino."

Foundry: Sounds of Birmingham (1995). This is an old collection with a few songs by a couple of great early-90s Tuscaloosa bands: rock-with-horns-but-not-ska band Pain and the pre-Dexateens punk band the Phoebes. This is not one of the songs on the album.

Four Songs By Arthur Russell (2007). Proving that Arthur Russell is hard to cover, even Jens Lekman sounds out of his element here.

Freedom Haters Unite!: A Bloodshot Records Sampler, Vol. 6 (2006). Yet another of many Bloodshot samplers that I own, this one - like all of them, really - is reasonably strong.

Freedom Sings (2001). This is really a live album documenting a benefit for the First Amendment Center with a bunch of Nashville greats covering songs that have something to do with restricting freedom, I think? It's for a good cause.

Funk/Soul Revival: Classic Tracks and the New Breed (2007). I think this is a compilation from a label called Funk/Soul? It has Budos Band and is pretty damn good, at least.

Garage Swim (2013). First-rate compilation of a bunch of excellent garage-influenced bands active today, many of which I have waxed poetic elsewhere on this site. It's free at the [adult swim] site, so go get it.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (2000). Curated by the RZA, this soundtrack is one of the best Wu Tang-adjacent albums I've heard.

Ghostly Swim (2008). Another free [adult swim] compilation, although I like this one less. Full of electronica circa 2008.

Glitter From The Litter Bin (2003). Glam nuggets from the cracks of the 70s.

Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal (2006). Like the Eccentric Soul releases, this is a Numero Group collection of soul nuggets, in this case all with a gospel focus. Solid, y'all.

Guitar Player Presents Legends of Guitar: Country, Vol. 1 (1990). This is a much better collection than it has any right to be, with some truly excellent guitar players represented (although many are arguably representing the country subgenre of western swing).

Guitarrorists (1991). This is a compilation of instrumentals by indie rock guitar greats. It is none of their best works, but it is ok.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Ds and Es

Daughters of Texas (rel. 2002). Blues comp that is my wife's. It has Big Martha and Janis Joplin and seems to be about blues ladies from Texas.

Daytrotter Sessions, Vol. 1 and 2 (2007). A bunch of indie rock bands playing live in 2007.

The Debut/Period Original Jazz Classics Sampler (rel. 2002). This has some seriously great hard bop from Charlie Mingus's short-lived label.

The Devil's Music: Keith Richards' Favorite Tunes (rel. 2002). Top-notch comp from Uncut Magazine with blues, jazz, country, R&B, and reggae. What any of this has to do with Keith Richards is unknown. I mean, yes, the Rolling Stones have some wide-ranging influences.

Dirty Laundry: The Soul Of Black Country (rel. 2004). This is a comp of country songs performed by R&B and blues singers, emphasizing how very fragile the notions of genre are.

Do It Again: A Tribute To Pet Sounds (2006). Indie-rock folks cover the iconic Beach Boys album. Almost all of these songs make me wish I was listening to Pet Sounds instead of this.

Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down: A Tribute To Kris Kristofferson (2002). Lots of folks cover Kris Kristofferson songs. These are much better than the Beach Boys tribute, mostly because the songs are a bit more universally-accessible than the Beach Boys songs (I mean, anyone can cover Kristofferson), and the artists on the album are well-chosen for the material.

Don't Mess With Texas: SXSW 2008 New Music Sampler, Don't Mess With Texas: SXSW 2009 New Music Sampler, and Don't Mess With Texas: SXSW 2011 New Music Sampler. Bunch of indie-rock bands appearing at SXSW on the identified year. There's no rhyme or reason for these selections otherwise, and the whole is pretty lackluster. Some songs are good, though.

The Doo Wop Box (rel. 1993). Four discs of doo-wop, a genre that I can stand for about 20 minutes at a time, as I learned while listening to this. As a historical document, though, it is quite interesting.

Down And Out: The Sad Soul of the Black South (rel. 1998). This is a fascinating comp of semi-obscure down & dirty blues.

Down To The Promised Land: Five Years of Bloodshot Records (2000). This may be the first of Bloodshot's yearly compilations, but it is one of the best.

Eccentric Soul 1: The Capstone Label
Eccentric Soul 2: The Bandit Label
Eccentric Soul 3: The Deep City Label
Eccentric Soul 4: The Big Mack Label
Eccentric Soul 5: Mighty Mike Lenaburg
Eccentric Soul 6: Twinight's Lunar Rotation
Eccentric Soul 7: The Prix Label
Eccentric Soul 8: The Outskirts of Deep City

These comps, released between 2004 and 2007, are the R&B versions of garage rock, collecting  regional sides from the 60s and 70s made in communities all over the country. The Numero Group, which releases these, has done a phenomenal job. I think the first one, compiling songs by the Capstone Label, is my favorite, but they are all worth seeking out.

Eu Vim da Bahia (rel. 1965). This is an early comp of music from the Bahia area of Brazil, featuring many musicians who would very soon after become associated with the tropicalia movement. This collection features the artists playing slightly syrupy bossanova, which doesn't indicate the musical mayhem that they would create within the next five years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Cs

Cambodia: Traditional Music Vol. 1 (released 1975) and Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk and Pop Music Vol. 1 (released 2004). I'm not too enamored of the traditional Cambodian music, but the second disc, a recording of Cambodian garage bands, rocks most mightily.

Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010. An excellent compilation of Austin music curated by Gerard Cosley with the extraordinary Follow That Bird! (who have re-formed as Mirror Travel) and the great Distant Seconds.

Chains And Black Exhaust (released 2002). This top-notch comp collects rare psychedelic funk tunes.

Chess Psychedelic Jazz and Funky Grooves (1968-75) and Chess Soul: A Decade of Chicago's Finest (1963-72). The former collects the awkward attempts of some great jazz, blues, and soul artists to make garage-y psychedelic music. Perhaps it helped create a market for the brilliance of the Chains and Black Exhaust music, but it pretty well sucks. The latter collects the more classic Chess blues, soul, and R&B music, and it is solid.

Classic Bluegrass from Smithsonian Folkways (released 2002), Classic Harmonica Blues From Smithsonian Folkways (released 2013), and Classic Mountain Songs From Smithsonian Folkways (released 2002). Smithsonian Folkways is doing the lord's work here. Each of these collections contains amazing old music that would be right at home on Harry Smith's Anthologies of American Folk Music (and, in a couple of places, overlaps that collection). The Harmonica Blues compilation came out last year and is proof that Smithsonian Folkways can continue to curate a collection built around a central concept, and the label's seemingly endless depths and quality of their archives, a veritable diamond mine of folk music.

CMJ 2007: The Bands, The Music, The City, Vol. 1. A freebie collection of indie rock bands from 2007 that I will probably delete.

The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968, The Complete Stax-Volt Singles Vol. 2: 1968-1971, and The Complete Stax-Volt Singles Vol. 3: 1972-1975. Total songs on these three boxes: 669. The first two box sets are perfect. The last still has moments of brilliance, but things were getting sloppy at Stax-Volt.

Country Funk 1969-75, Country Got Soul Vol. 1 (rel. 2003) and Country Got Soul Vol. 2 (rel. 2004). These are much better attempts at fusing two genres than the Chess Psychedelic stuff. The tracks are well-selected from white folks (especially Memphis-based white folk) who were often classified as country musicians while any fool can hear how much R&B goes into their sound (Charlie Rich, Dan Penn, and Bobbie Gentry, most prominently).

Country Legends Hits (1955-75). This is an 8-song cheapo compilation that I may have bought in a gas station with some truly excellent songs - all original versions! - on it: Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy," Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin'," Sonny James' "Young Love," Ferlin Husky's "Wings of a Dove," Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee," Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons," Faron Young's "Hello Walls," and Willie Nelson's "Crazy." I think I bought this on a road trip in 1991 or 92 and realized that I really love country music.

Crossing Jordan Soundtrack (rel. 2001). This is a show I never watched, but I had the distinct impression that it was not one I would enjoy. However, this soundtrack, which is mostly Americana types covering iconic 60's songs quite well, leaps way higher than I could expect with Vic Chesnutt's "Buckets of Rain" and - especially - Richard Thompson burning down "Season of the Witch."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Bs

Beat The Retreat: Songs By Richard Thompson (1994). This is a pretty fun tribute album. Best track: Dinosaur Jr. - "I Misunderstood." I can't find a copy of that, though, so here's a close runner-up.

Before Night Falls: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2001). Pretty pleasant music, I guess. I'm not so knowledgeable about Latin music.

Beg Scream and Shout!: The Big Ol' Box of 60s Soul (1961-69). Well-named. Six discs of 60s soul music with no clear rhyme or reason for the selection or tracklist. I don't have the liner notes, so maybe they would clear this up a bit. All awesome.

Believer 25th Issue Compilation (2005).  This one has indie-rock bands covering other indie rock bands. Best track: Spoon doing Yo La Tengo's "Decora."

Believer Music Issue, July/August 2008. This one's all over the place and not in a good way. The Madlib and Aceyalone tracks are good, though.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002. Buncha authors reading from their own work, curated by Dave Eggers. There's some good writing on here (Sam Lipsyte, Sara Corbett, Eric Schlosser), but it's like a serious of This American Life Act IVs.

The Best Of Blue Note (1958-65). No idea where I got this one! The tracks are great - Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," Horace Silver's "Song For My Father," among other greats, you know - but the selection is disjointed.

The Best of Mountain Stage Live, Vol. 3 (1992). I only have a couple of tracks from this one, actually: Yo La Tengo doing an acoustic version of "Lewis" and Jo-El Sonnier covering Richard Thompson's "Tear Stained Letter," but both are excellent. This is not the same version, but it'll do.

Better Than The Beatles: A Tribute To The Shaggs (2002). Not too bad, as far as tribute albums go. Deerhoof is an obvious inclusion, but the Danielson Famile and R. Stevie Moore nods are inspired.

The Big Beat 1963. All Brian Wilson projects. Best track: The Honeys - "Little Dirt Bike."

The Big Lebowski Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1998). I picked this up for a read-through of The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski at my house a few years back. Solid selection, curated - I assume - by T-Bone Burnett, although it leaves off a number of songs from the movie.

Black and Proud: The Soul of the Black Panther Era, Vol. I and II (1968-2001). The first one mixes obscurities with soul classics from 1969-75, and it is excellent. The second one throws in some hip-hop and a Galactic track from the 00s, and I don't know what the hell they were thinking.

The Blasting Concept, Vol. 2 (1986). Top-notch SST comp.

Bloodshot Records Free Label Samper 2007: Yr Welcome, World. Okay.

Bloodshot Records eMusic Honky-Tonk Compilation (2007). Best track: Robbie Fulks and Kelly Willis on "Parallel Bars."

Bloodshot Records Sampler 2012. Even stronger. This comp sold me on Lydia Loveless, who stands her own with the likes of Dexter Romweber, the Waco Brothers, Kelly Hogan, Graham Parker, and Alejandro Escovado.

Blue Note: The Lost Grooves 67-70. Jazz-funk with Grant Green, Stanley Turrentine, and Lou Donaldson.

Blues Legends (1947-82). Well-curated cheapo blues comp. Wins by starting with a Gatemouth Brown track.

Blues Masters: Essential Blues Collection (1927-67). I don't know how essential it is, but there's some solid choices here, too.

The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs For Bumpy Wagon Rides (2002). I think this is Bloodshot doing music for kids, but Robbie Fulks wins again with his creeptastic, kid-unfriendly song "Godfrey."

Brain In A Box (throughout the 20th century). Bizarro box set collecting theme music from sci-fi movies and tv shows along with a disc of incidental music and two discs of sci-fi songs. Fun listen, but weirdly curated.

The Bridge: A Tribute To Neil Young (1989). This is a really great comp. Best track: The Pixies doing "Winterlong."

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Music Library Compilations: As

I'm not really going to review my compilation albums unless they need it. I will, however, list them. It's the least I can do, literally. Well, almost. I suppose I could also do nothing. But this is a blog post, which is almost the same thing. After some consideration, I'm not including friend-made samplers because it's just too complicated to mention what's on them, but there are quite a few of those, too. Five here in the As.

Absolutely Kosher 2002 Sampler. Best track: The Extra Glenns - "Baltimore."

Achoo! An Asthmatic Kitty Sampler, Vol. 2 (2007). Best track: Half-Handed Cloud - "Sailing The Veil-Boat."

Acute eMusic Sampler (2006). Best track: Theoretical Girls - "Computer Dating."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2010. Best track: High On Fire - "Speak In Tongues."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2011. Best track: Cerebral Ballzy (name: ugh) - "On The Run."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2012. Best track: Wye Oak - "Spiral."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2013. Best track: Captain Murphy feat Viktor Vaughn, Earl Sweatshirt and Thundercat - "Between Villains."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2014. Still ongoing. Best track so far: Sleep - "The Clarity."

African Swim (2008). Another [adult swim] compilation, this one featuring African hip-hop. Best track: GUMSHEV - "Matha."

AK79 (1979). This is a compilation of New Zealand punk from 1979. Best track: Toy Love - "Toy Love Song."

American Primitive, Vol. I: Rare Pre-War Gospel, 1926-36. No best track. They're all phenomenal.

American Primitive, Vol. II: Pre-War Revenants 1897-1939. All good again.

The American Song-Poem Anthology: Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood And Brush? (2003). These are the songs where people would send in their poetry throughout the 60s and 70s and a group of very game LA session musicians would throw it down on vinyl. There are so many great songs here. And there are some that are unambiguously ironic. This is one of both.

The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six-Foot-Four? (2003). These are less engaging, but there's a few standouts. The following has been covered by Yo La Tengo.

Angola Prison Spirituals (1959). Gut-wrenching religious songs by prisoners in dire circumstances.

I Eat Records 2005 Sampler: Appetizers and Leftovers. Sampler from a pretty great defunct Austin label with tracks from Okkervil River, Phosphorescent, and Shearwater. Lotsa great tracks from bands that no longer exist, but the only one I can find on youtube is the Okkervil River track.

ATL RMX (2009). Another [adult swim] compilation, this one featuring remixed hip-hop tracks from Atlanta. Best track: Young Jeezy - "I Got This (Remix by El-P)."

Monday, August 04, 2014

Music Library: Neil Young, Yuck, Yung Wu, Yusef Lateef, Frank Zappa, Zombies, Zoot Sims, ZZ Top, 3Ds, 6 String Drag, 6ths, 13th Floor Elevators, 16 Horsepower

Neil Young - Live At The Cellar Door (1970), Chrome Dreams (soniclovenoize recreation) (1977), Don't Spook The Crazy Horse bootleg (1990), and Americana (2012). Yeah, I've talked about Mr. Young ad nauseam. The Cellar Door is very similar to the Massey Hall live album that came out a few years back. Chrome Dreams is a recreation from here. The Don't Spook bootleg is from the Ragged Glory tour, and Americana is, of course, a recreation of traditional folk songs in the style of Crazy Horse.

Yuck - Yuck (2011). Young people who sound like old people. But my kind of old people!

Yung Wu - Shore Leave (1987). The best of the many Feelies-who-aren't-Feelies bands. This one is fronted by percussionist Dave Weckerman!

Yusef Lateef - The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef (1960), Eastern Sounds (1961), and The Golden Flute (1966). First-rate hard bop/post-bop that cooks even when Lateef switches to flute. And that's a feat, y'all.

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (1969). The only Zappa album that I will own because I hate Zappa but love Beefheart, who sings on two of the songs here and gives the proceedings more of a Beefheartian feel than the usual Zappaist self-indulgence.

The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle (1968) and R.I.P. (soniclovenoize recreation) (1969). The original chamber-pop maestros. Odessey is delightful and R.I.P. is yet another recreation by the blog guy here.

Zoot Sims and Stan Getz - The Brothers (1956). Just realized that this should probably be a Stan Getz album and not a Zoot Sims one.

ZZ Top - ZZ Top's First Album (1971), Rio Grande Mud (1972), Tres Hombres (1973), Fandango (1975), Tejas (1976), Deguello (1979), El Loco (1981), and Eliminator (1983). Tejas is kind of terrible, mostly because of lousy production, but the rest of these are quite deserving of their reputation as Texas boogie (or cheesy synth-y Texas boogie, in the case of Eliminator).

The 3Ds - Hellzapoppin (1992). Most excellent kiwi-pop.

6 String Drag - 6 String Drag (1997) and High Hat (1997). Fantastic alt-country from Raleigh. Saw them back in 1997 or so, and they rocked like hell.

The 6ths - Wasps' Nests (1995) and Hyacinths And Thistles (2000). Stephin Merritt's project of electropop as sung by other indie-rock personages. The titles are deliberately designed to make you lisp.

The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966) and Easter Everywhere (1967). Roky Erickson's Austin-based psychedelic-garage rock band. This is Ground Zero for Austin music.

16 Horsepower - Sackcloth n' Ashes (1996) and Low Estate (1998). This was a Denver-based alt-country band with a predilection towards sin-and-retribution lyrics.

...and - holy smokes - that wraps up the regular coverage of my music library, which I started in 2008. 2008! We were all so young then. I'm going to run as quickly as possible through my compilations and the numerous albums I have picked up in the meantime or accidentally skipped in the regular rotation. And then I will try to enjoy music again. Is crunking still a thing?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Music Library: X, X-Ray Spex, Iannis Xenakis, XTC, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yeasayer, Yelawolf, Yes, Yo La Tengo, Yo-Yo Ma, Dwight Yoakam, Yoko Ono, Young Knives, Young People

X - Los Angeles (1980), Wild Gift (1981), Under The Big Black Sun (1982), More Fun In The New World (1983), Ain't Love Grand (1985), See How We Are (1987), Live at Emo's November 11, 2002 bootleg. The best thing Ray Manzarek gave the world was the first X album. The best thing X gave the world was their second album. My favorite song X gave the world was on their fourth album ("I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts," and check out how much they progressively tear up the two chords of the verses with each new iteration in the attached video), but their essential punk-rockabilly-art mojo was starting to pass by that point. Still, there's some great moments on the next two albums, and even when I went to see them on their nostalgia tour of 2002 (represented on the bootleg here), they cooked like hell.

X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents (1978). So freakin' great. I had never seen video of X-Ray Spex live until recently when I caught a piece of Wolfgang Buld's not-great documentary Punk In England with footage of the band, and man, Poly Styrene is electric.

Iannis Xenakis - Kraanerg (performed by the ST-X Ensemble, 1997). That's avant-garde, all right.

XTC - Skylarking (1986) and a compilation by a friend. The compilation has tracks from all over their career, so I know that I really like the ones from Drums and Wires more than any of their other tracks, but I'm not really much of an XTC fan.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell (2003), Show Your Bones (2006), and Is Is EP (2007). They come more into their own as they go, and I ended up liking each of these more than the last.

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals (2007). Having finished appropriating everything they could from African-American culture, young Brooklynites went for African and Latin music.

Yelawolf - Arena Rap (2008). This is silly as shit.

Yes - Fragile (1971) and Close To The Edge (1972). Well, I don't hate Yes as much as I thought I did and - I guess - quite like them for a lot of these albums, but I really do not like Jon Anderson's voice, which could charitably be described as hobbit castrati.

Yo La Tengo - Ride The Tiger (1986), New Wave Hot Dogs (1987), President Yo La Tengo (1989), Facebook (1990), Here Comes My Baby EP (1990), May I Sing With Me (1992), Upside Down EP (1992), Painful (1993), Shaker EP (1993), Electr-O-Pura (1995), Camp Yo La Tengo EP (1995), Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo compilation (1996), I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One (1997), Little Honda EP (1998), Strange But True (with Jad Fair, 1998), Aligre Radio 12/2/1999 bootleg, ...And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000), Danelectro EP (2000), WFMU Request Show 2000 bootleg, The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science (2002), Nuclear War EP (2002), WFMU Request Show 2002 bootleg, Summer Sun (2003), Today Is The Day EP (2003), Merry Christmas From Yo La Tengo EP (2003), Prisoners Of Love: A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003 compilation, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics (2006), Mr. Tough/I'm Your Puppet single (2006), I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (2007), iTunes Live Session EP (2007), They Shoot, We Score (2008), Popular Songs (2009), Fade (2013). As you might have guessed by this list, I like Yo La Tengo. I am 42 years old, and I have loved YLT since the early-to-mid 90s. But you probably know all of that. So this is really just an excuse to post a whole bunch of awesome YLT videos.

Yo-Yo Ma - Bach: Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites (1990), Elgar, Walton: Cello Concertos (1990), Rachmaninov, Prokofiev: Cello Sonatas (1991), Concertos From The New World (1995), Soul Of The Tango: The Music Of Astor Piazzolla (1997), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Soundtrack (2000), Brahms: Cello Sonatas (2004), The Dvorak Album (2004), Obrigado Brazil (2004), Appassionato (2007). Much love for this man's music.

Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (1986). I covered Yoakam earlier, but picked this up since. Used to have it on vinyl back in my youth.

Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band - Fly (1971). Pretty bad-ass stuff.

Young Knives - Superabundance (2008). Not bad, but not great, either, and more than a little forgettable.

Young People - War Prayers (2003) and Five Sunsets In Four Days (2006). Pretty cool avant-rock band with a serious love of movies.

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From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

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